Hitachi pushes hard drives to 1 TB per platter

Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.D hard drive

Much action in the storage world these days centers on flash memory and solid-state drives, which benefit from low power consumption and durability—since they don’t have any moving parts. However, the traditional hard drive business still has some life left in it, particularly since manufacturers are able to offer more storage at lower prices than flash—key for storage-intensive purposes like data centers and for folks who horde digital media like it’s going out of style. Now, HItachi GST has pushed 3.5-inch hard drive storage to a new landmark: 1 TB or storage per platter. The company’s newest Deskstar and Cinemastar drives are intended to be used for both desktop and consumer electronics products.

The new Deskstar and Cinemastar drives build on advances HItachi made in its 7mm-tall Travelstar drives, which have an areal density of 636 gigabits per square inch. Hitachi gets to 1 TB per platter by jumping from 2.5-inch mobile drive sizes to 3.5 inch, where they’ve achieved areal densities of 569 gigabits per inch. In theory, the development could lead to standard desktop hard drives with 4 TB capacities, and 2.5-inch notebook drives with multi-terabyte capacities.

“The areal density race continues and while having the highest capacity is appealing, reaching 1TB per platter is equally important as it serves a full range of applications and opportunities across the industry’s largest market volume,” said Hitachi GST VP of product marketing Brendan Collins, in a statement.

Hitachi isn’t the first to get here: Samsung announced drives with 1 TB per platter areal density last spring.

The initial Deskstar 7K1000.D and Deskstar 5K1000.B drives aim at desktop and server systems, with the 7L1000.D offering 7,200 rpm speeds and a 6 Gb/s SATA bus, and an 15 percent idle power savings over previous models; the 5K1000.D slows down to 5400 rpm but offers a 23 percent idle power savings over earlier models. The CinemaStar 7K1000.D and 5K1000.B aim at the set-top box and DVR market, where (oddly) Hitachi says 90 percent of the demand is for drives ranging from 250 to 500 GB—the 3.5-inch drives pack technology specifically intended to facilitate video streaming with quiet operation and minimal power consumption.

The Deskstar drives are shipping to Hitachi’s channel partners now, while the CinemaStar drives are expected to start shipping to distributors and channel partners this fall—all will be available in capacities from 250 GB to 1 TB. As Hitachi expands the technology to multi-platter drives, expect high-capacity home servers, NAS devices, RAID arrays, and (of course) plain old hard drives to follow along.